The Hive Law

Can I Get In Trouble If My Gun Is Stolen? (How To Avoid Going To Jail)

Can I Get In Trouble If My Gun Is Stolen - How To Report A Gun Stolen - My Gun Was Stolen From My Car - Do Police Return Stolen Guns

Can you get in trouble if your gun is stolen?

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • how to avoid getting in trouble if your gun gets stolen
  • how to report your gun stolen
  • what happens when the police find your gun
  • do the police return your stolen gun
  • what happens if someone commits a crime with your gun
  • are you liable for crimes committed with your stolen gun

Let’s dig in.

Table of Contents

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Key Points About Getting In Trouble For Your Stolen Gun

  • Stealing a gun is a felony with up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
  • You will be held liable for crimes committed with your stolen gun.
  • You have 24 hours to report a stolen or missing gun to the police.

Can I Get In Trouble If My Gun Is Stolen?

Yes, you can get in trouble if your gun is stolen.

You can face criminal charges if your gun is stolen and used in a crime.

Most states have gun laws that penalize you if your gun is stolen and used in a crime.

These gun control laws impose criminal liability for not properly securing your firearm.

You could face a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the state you live in.

For example, if your stolen gun gets used for murder, you’ll face felony jail time.

You need to report your gun stolen to a local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.

Fill out the form on this page if you:

  • need legal advice about local gun laws
  • need representation if your stolen gun was used in a crime

How To Avoid Getting In Trouble If Your Gun Is Stolen

Here is a list of potential charges you could face if your stolen gun gets used in a crime:

You can get in trouble and get charged with any of these.

Even if you’re not the one in possession of the gun.

State laws are such that it’s your responsibility to secure your firearms.

What To Do If Your Gun Was Stolen?

Per state laws, the three things that you need to do if your gun was stolen are:

  • report gun theft to local police
  • report gun theft to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
  • reach out to your local firearm dealer and ask if there’s any way to trace your stolen gun

If you have firearm insurance, contact your insurance provider to file the firearm stolen

All states have reporting requirements for the theft of a firearm.

Should You Report A Gun As Stolen?

Yes, you should report a gun as stolen.

You need to report lost guns even if it’s just been lost.

Reporting laws state that if you don’t report a stolen gun, firearm owners are liable for:

How To Report A Gun Stolen

Here are the steps for how to report lost or stolen guns:

  • Notify the local or state police. Contact your local police and file a report for the missing gun. Provide information like make, model, serial number, and when and where it got stolen.
  • Contact the National Crime Information Center. Visit the NCIC website or call 1-800-827-4277. Provide them with information about your stolen gun.
  • Contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Contact the ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867) to report the gun theft.
  • Contact your insurance agent. If you have insurance, you’ll need to file a claim.
  • Watch websites, pawn shops, and gun stores. Keep an eye out for someone trying to sell your stolen gun.

The National Crime Information Center does not:

  • investigate gun theft
  • attempt to recover stolen firearms

The NCIC maintains a database of stolen firearms.

Their database helps local law enforcement recover it if it’s ever found.

What will the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) do?

The ATF will use police records (when you file a report) to:

  • investigate the theft of a firearm
  • help police with potential violations of federal laws and regulations

When the ATF gets involved with a stolen firearm case, they:

  • can bring civil and criminal penalties against a gun owner for not reporting
  • can bring civil and criminal penalties against the thief stealing the gun
  • provide support with the investigation for local police
  • can trace the firearm to individuals or businesses involved in the theft

Can You Report A Gun Stolen Without A Serial Number?

No, it is not possible to report a stolen gun without a serial number.

There is no way for the police department, ATF, or NCIC to trace guns without a serial number.

In fact, owning a gun without a serial number in the United States is illegal.

Federal and state laws require all firearms to have a serial number.

And for you to register them with the ATF.

Let’s say that the police department finds out that you own a gun without a serial number.

You can face federal and state charges for that.

And you can get hit with felony charges that give you:

  • up to 10 years in prison
  • up to $250,000 in fines

What Happens When You Report A Gun Stolen?

When you report a stolen gun, the police will add that information to their database.

They will investigate the theft of your gun by:

  • collecting evidence
  • interviewing witnesses
  • searching in pawn shops and gun shows
  • using informants and contacts in the criminal community
  • setting up stings and undercover officers (for larger operations)
  • checking crime databases
  • analyzing ccw security footage

Why would the police care so much about your stolen gun?

Is it only if it’s a part of a larger gun trafficking operation?

They want to make sure that your stolen gun doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Recovering your gun can help solve other crimes they are investigating.

It also helps prevent future thefts or illegal use of guns.

It matters that your gun gets found.

When your gun is used for a crime, it is traced back to the gun owner.

The gun owner can get criminal charges if their gun was used.

What Happens If Police Find Your Stolen Gun?

When police find your gun, they will return it to your local police department.

The local police department can either:

  • return the gun to you
  • press charges against the person who stole the gun
  • destroy the gun “to reduce gun violence”
  • press charges against the person who stole your gun

Do Police Return Stolen Guns?

Yes, police do return stolen guns.

But they have the option not to return stolen guns to the owner.

Guns that were used in a crime will:

  • get kept as evidence for the investigation
  • be given back to the owner after the investigation
  • be destroyed after the investigation

Will You Get In Trouble If Your Gun Was Stolen In These Situations?

Let’s look at some scenarios to see if you’ll get in trouble or not.

And to know what to do to stay out of trouble if your gun gets stolen.

What To Do If My Gun Was Stolen From My Car

When your gun gets stolen from your car, you need to report it to the police immediately.

You will be liable for someone using your gun in a crime if it’s not reported to the police.

When someone steals your gun from your car, the cops will want to know:

  • when and where the gun was stolen from
  • a description of the gun (i.e., make, model, serial number, etc.)
  • any other items that may have been taken with the gun
  • whether you have reported the theft to your insurance company
  • a list of any possible suspects or witnesses

What Happens If Someone Commits A Crime With Your Gun?

There are two scenarios to consider for what happens if someone commits a crime with your gun:

  • you reported the gun as stolen
  • you did not report the gun stolen

Let’s look at if you DID report it as stolen to the local police.

You likely won’t get held responsible if someone commits a crime with your gun.

But what if you do not report the gun as stolen?

When someone commits a crime with your unreported, stolen gun, you may:

  • face criminal charges (i.e., failure to report the theft of a firearm or accessory to a crime)
  • have to pay restitution to the victims of the crime
  • be held financially responsible for damages (i.e., property damage or personal injury)

What Happens If Someone Gets Caught With Your Gun?

If someone gets caught with your gun (and it’s stolen), they can face:

  • criminal charges (misdemeanor or felony)
  • time in prison (up to several years)
  • thousands of dollars in fines
  • losing their rights to own a firearm

Possessing Stolen Guns

Possessing a stolen gun is a serious crime.

It can land you jail time, fines, and a criminal record.

You can get in trouble even if you didn’t know it was a stolen gun.

You should always run the serial number of a gun through NCIC to make sure it’s not stolen.

State Laws For Stolen Guns

Not all states have the same laws for stolen guns.

But, most state laws are sure that there:

  • is mandatory reporting of the stolen gun from the gun owner
  • are increased penalties for criminal possession of stolen firearms for the thief

How To Know If A Gun Is Stolen

When buying a gun, how do you know if it’s stolen?

Check the serial number of the gun you’re purchasing against the ATF or NCIC database.

These databases will tell you if the gun has been reported as stolen or not.

Make sure that you only purchase guns from federal firearm licensed (FFL) gun dealers.

18 U.S.C. 923 requires gun dealers to:

  • have federal licenses to sell guns
  • keep records of all gun sales and serial numbers
  • conduct background checks on gun buyers

Purchasing a stolen gun can land you with:

  • a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your state
  • prison time, fines, and the loss of your firearm rights

You can get in trouble for buying a stolen gun even if you didn’t know it was stolen.

How To Check If A Gun Was Stolen

To check if a gun was stolen, call the ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).

They keep a database of all reported stolen guns.

They can tell you if a gun was stolen or not before you buy it.

What's The Penalty For The Possession Of A Stolen Firearm?

The penalty for possessing a stolen firearm depends on your state.

But, you’ll get criminal charges that range from probation to felony charges.

You can face other penalties for possessing a stolen firearm, like:

  • receiving stolen property
  • possession of a firearm without a license
  • conspiracy or burglary

Is Possession Of A Stolen Firearm A Felony?

Yes, possession of a stolen firearm is a felony.

You will get charged with:

  • receiving stolen property
  • possession of a firearm without a license

You could also face federal-level charges for being in possession of a stolen handgun.

FAQs About Getting In Trouble For Stolen Guns

Here are a couple of questions we get asked on this topic.

Penalty For Gun Without Serial Number

The penalty for a gun without a serial number gets you:

  • federal and state charges
  • probation up to felony charges
  • up to 10 years in prison
  • up to $250,000 in fines

Possessing a gun without a serial number is a serious crime.

What To Do If You Find A Gun

Here is a list of things that you should do if you find a gun:

  1. do not touch the gun
  2. call the police immediately
  3. if you have to move the gun, use a cloth to pick it up
  4. follow any instructions a police officer gives you
  5. don’t leave the gun unattended

Getting In Trouble For A Stolen Gun

If you are facing a conviction over a stolen gun, fill out the form on this page.

Our criminal defense attorneys have the experience you need to defend your rights.

This way, you don’t:

  • get wrongfully convicted of crimes
  • spend decades in jail needlessly
  • never see your family or loved ones again
  • get wrongfully accused of a serious crime by police officers

You deserve a fair trial in the criminal justice system.

We can provide you with that.

Talk soon.

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